Sloshed in America

David Edelstein: “As someone who frequently contemplates the pros and cons of alcohol consumption, I’ve wondered why no one ever talks about out-of-control epicureans—why Alcoholics Anonymous people (at least in my circles) never tell horror stories of self-destructive Chateauneuf du Pape obsessions or ridiculous 150-mile trips to taste some acclaimed brewpub India pale ale or rent monies blown on bottles of 25-year-old Springbank. I admit that doesn’t sound as nightmarish as, say, waking up from a three-day blackout on a rooftop, naked, covered in vomit, with a needle sticking out of one arm and two cops pointing guns. But there is a class of addicts (and not always privileged ones) for whom the epicurean drive is closely allied with the drive to self-medicate. Epicures go sideways, too, big time.” (Slate)

Related: Is a Wine-Soaked Film Too, Er, Rosé?

“Critics for the most part found the movie delightful and described Miles as an oenophile, adult viewers flocked to the clever comedy, and the positive buzz bolstered tourism in the Santa Ynez Valley, where the movie was filmed.

But a much more critical appraisal is coming from alcohol treatment professionals, recovering alcoholics and others who say that while Miles obviously suffers from alcohol addiction, his illness does not seem to register with audiences, just as it is overlooked in the movie. Polly McCall, an alcohol and drug therapist in New York City, said many of her patients are appalled that all they hear people talk about is how funny the characters are in ‘Sideways,’ which has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture and best adapted screenplay. Ms. McCall argued that there is a connection between all of Miles’s imbibing and his considerable troubles, from finding it hard to get up in the morning to his failed relationships and money problems.” (New York Times )

Panning for Hope

Sam Smith: “Today the major business of Americans earning more than minimum wage is selling false or faulty dreams to each other. As with Willie Loman and the Yellow Brick Road, this only takes you so far. Then it’s time for something different. One of the reasons Dean did as well as he did because, like him or not, he was real. It was an astounding change from the spinoids who dominate politics, media, and what passes for thought in Washington. As more people weary of fraudulent semiotics, their willingness to rebel may grow.

…The red state myth is the latest form of self-abuse by liberals. In 39 states Democrats are either comfortably ahead or could win by changing the minds of just five percent of the electorate. Further, the number of states solidly Republican has been declining since 1972, not surprising since the party’s strength has been based on unsupportable economic, social, and environmental ideas.
If the Democrats would stop worrying about the red-blue business and start being nicer to people in the red states, they will be on their way to a far more successful politics.” [via robotwisdom]

Platelets Pose Infection Risk in Transfusions

“Americans who receive blood platelet transfusions are probably at a higher risk of contracting potentially deadly bacterial infections than previously believed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published Thursday.

Doctors are often unaware of the threat, the agency reported, citing a survey of infectious-disease experts last year and a subsequent investigation into two transfusion-related deaths.” (New York Times )

Alarming, Alarmed or Alarmist?

Scientists Outline Research on a Rare Case of AIDS: “In a special symposium arranged to deal with the issues raised by the New York case, Dr. Ho presented his case to thousands of the world’s top AIDS experts at the Hynes Convention Center. He said it was unique not only among all those the Aaron Diamond Center had ever seen, but also among all the cases cataloged in the laboratory at Los Alamos, which collects data of the gene sequences and other molecular biology information of H.I.V. isolates from around the country.

He said that while it was still not known whether the New York case was isolated or part of a cluster, alerting the health department was the right thing to do. ‘That is a decision we stand by today,’ he said.

Some scientists and members of gay rights groups have criticized the disclosure as premature and unnecessarily alarmist, but there is little doubt that the strain of H.I.V. was resistant to three of the four licensed classes of antiretroviral drugs used to combat the AIDS virus.” (New York Times )